More like summer than Autumn

Although it’s the third day of Autumn (Fall for those of you in the USA) the weather forecast for today was for 27C (80F) and sunny, although we knew it would be cooler in the hills and along the coast. Mrs T and I had been planning a trip to Johanna to check it out for a possible camping trip. Johanna is a surf beach off the ‘inland’ section of the Great Ocean Road. We left Geelong around 10.30 am in sensational conditions – there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Our route from was Geelong along the Cape Otway road to Forrest which was our first coffee stop. There were a few other motorcyclist stopped there enjoying the day as well. Actually a bunch of HD’s and choppers rolled in as we were leaving – unusual to see them out in the country.

From here we headed towards Apollo Bay, then turned up Turton’s Track. Mrs T experimented with a shot from the pillion seat on the Apollo Bay road.

Turton’s Track is slow, but extremely picturesque. It comes out in Beech Forest and from here it’s only a short run up to the intersection of the GOR and then down to the Johanna beach turnoff. There were quite a few campers and surfers enjoying the beach-side national park. The pic below will give you a clue why.

We found some shade and ate our lunch. I’m so sick of buying overpriced, mediocre food whilst out riding I’ve started taking a lunch on some rides. Very old fashioned I know – I’ve become my parents!

After lunch we got back onto the GOR, having skillfully dodged a farm dog that rushed out towards the ZX14’s front wheel at warp speed. We overtook a couple of cars bunched up together, then had a completely car free run to Apollo Bay. This was probably the best run through sweepers of the bush section of the GOR that I’ve EVER had – it was that good and Mrs T is an excellent pillion in the twisties. After getting some fuel at Apollo Bay we headed a short distance along the GOR to Skene’s Creek, then headed inland up through the twisties back to Forrest for another drink stop. As we pulled up I spotted a unique looking cafe racer style TRX Yamaha and later chatted with it’s owner.

Painted in Ducati colors, it has a cafe racer kit tank, seat and fairing. I think that it looks excellent. High resolution pictures HERE and HERE. Link to video HERE

  By now it was actually getting hot. We headed for home via the back roads, thoroughly enjoying the riding and weather. All up, we covered 320 kms of great riding in perfect weather conditions. It doesn’t get much better than this and I clocked up around 645 kms for the weekend, having ridden with Marty yesterday. Actually, here’s a pic of Marty’s ZX14 yesterday with the new Delkevic pipes.


Pre-Christmas on the Great Ocean Road

My neighbor Mitch and I made an early start around 7.00 am to beat the holiday traffic on the GOR. Our route ran from Geelong along the GOR to Lorne where we turned inland and headed to Forrest via Dean’s Marsh. After a brief stop at the West Barwon reservoir we headed to Apollo Bay for a coffee stop and re-fuel. Check out what I paid for 98 octane in Apollo Bay in the pic below. You guessed it – there is only one gas station and it’s holiday season! From Apollo Bay we rode the GOR back to Lorne and encountered surprisingly little traffic. We didn’t stop in the tourist mayhem of Lorne but again headed back inland to Dean’s Marsh and had another pit stop. From here I headed to Colac to visit Steve and Mitch headed home. It was an excellent run in perfect motorcycling conditions, namely blue skies, no wind and around 25C temp.

Yes, that $185.9 per litre! Holiday season profiteering?

Mitch (AKA Sir Skuffy in some circles) can really hustle this modded Honda CB1000R.

Ohlins rear suspension matched to his weight and modded front forks.

Heated grips, bar end mirrors & small aftermarket screen

In a moment of introspection, brought about by this ride and a recent birthday, it occurred to me that I have now been riding the GOR in all kinds of conditions for 40 years now. The run from Lorne up to Colac reminded me of my first covert winter runs along the GOR as an unlicensed 16 year old on my Yamaha 175 trail bike, the occasional ride on Andy’s 250 Suzuki Hustler, and also blasting along the GOR on either of my CB750 Hondas (with the young Ms Tarsnakes on the back), let alone the evil handling Kawasaki Z1R!

On the topic of Kawasaki’s, the ZX-14 performed beautifully and my love affair with the big Kwaka continues! It is hands down the best motorcycle I’ve ever owned. It’s also worth a mention that the 2012 ZX-14R won Two Wheels magazine’s “Bike of the Year” award.

Lorne for coffee

It was a chilly 5C this morning, however, the bright sunshine and promise of warmer temps along the coast lured us out for a short ride along the GOR to Lorne, then home via Deans Marsh.

We sat out in the sunshine at a Greek cafe right by the pier.

Helmets by the bay!

As we were leaving a guy offered to take a shot of us by the ZX14

It got cloudy and cool as we wound our way up through the bush and the curves to Deans Marsh. We overtook a couple two up on a sport bike who were going extremely cautiously – I’m sure the bike’s stability was not helped by how high up the pillion was perched. As we came up behind them I actually thought the lass on the back was standing up as she was literally head and shoulders above the rider.Once we hit the Cape Otway Rd the sun came out and we enjoyed a good run home.


Weekday Otways run

Marty and I took a run through the Otways today as we are both on holidays and it was a perfect day for a weekday ride.

Our first stop was the Gellibrand store, where Maria was sporting a Gellibrand “Blues & Blueberry Festival” T-Shirt. This will be a huge gig for a tiny township on 3 March. For details see Moshtix. Here’s a shot of their flyer in the shop window.

We had a great run with very little traffic from Gellibrand to Lavers Hill and the same along the GOR to Apollo Bay. It was too good to be true, and the traffic from Apollo Bay to Forrest was a bit slow.

Some pics of the bikes parked in the shade at Apollo Bay.

Marty’s ZX9R

We pulled in to Forrest microbrewery for a drink (non alcoholic when we’re riding) and a bit more of a chat. Some older fella who had been really flying through the curves in his car insisted we join him. We did so and also bumped into Fiona who we know from our work who was working there.

The weather was perfect for riding with the temp at around 22C and lots of blue sky & beautiful sunshine – 315 kms of “moto-therapy”.


Two Zeds to the 12 Apostles

We finally got the two ZX14’s together for a post Christmas ride. Pete and Robyn were on a trip from Melbourne to country South West Victoria and team Tarsnakes arranged to ride part of the trip with them. They rode from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and met us at our place in Geelong. An ideal run would be to ride the whole Great Ocean Road, however, the reality of such a ride with all the Christmas holiday traffic heading to the beach resorts really makes such a run just too frustrating, so we rode the back roads inland to the tiny township of Gellibrand and joined the GOR at Laver’s Hill.

Here’s our route

It was a little cooler than forecast for a summer’s day, but quite OK never the less.

The two big Kwakas together for the first time at our Gellibrand coffee stop.

The old saying that it’s a small world is often very true – it turned out that Paul from the store (an avid dirt bike rider) and Pete actually went to school together many years ago.

Pete and Robyn aboard the red one.

Plus team Tarsnakes on the black one

From Gellibrand it seemed to take no time up through the twisties to our lunch stop at Lavers Hill.

Good food and magnificent views over the Otway Ranges.

The traffic along this part of the GOR towards the 12 Apostles was as expected – namely bloody awful, especially along the best bits!

We had a look at these.

I’ve edited all the people out of the following shots, but trust me, the place was jam packed with tourists like never before.

The Tarsnakes – 31 years married and still having lots of fun messing around on motorcycles.


Mrs T, Robyn & Peter


The sandstone cliffs are crumbling – all that rubble at the bottom is new rock fall.

The choppers were on constant rotation and still the queues for flights were long.

From here we split up and went in opposite directions, Peter & Robyn headed further west and we headed back the way we came. We were then running against the flow of tourist traffic and had a brilliant run on the curves through the Otways and then just had 80 kms (approx 50 miles) of freeway back to Geelong.

All up it was a great day’s riding and it was fun to have the two big Kawasaki’s together, observe each others bike in motion and really appreciate their incredible capability as two-up Sport- touring motorcycles.

To see this report on the PASHNIT motorcycle forum, click HERE

Post script 2nd January 2012

Peter & Robyn dropped in on their way home having ridden parts of the GOR today. But this was no day to be riding a motorcycle, it was 40C (104F) when they left for Melbourne!


Inland run to Ararat

Awoke to a magnificent Spring day, just right for riding. All the pics below feature lots of blue sky. This was long overdue after a very wet week, Melbourne having had some fierce storms on Thursday..

Our route

larger version HERE

Lunch stop. I should have photographed our visors. The air was thick with insects, so much so that a stop was needed each hour just to clean our visors enough to be able to see.Snake Valley 1914-1918 war memorial. Every other small town memorial I’ve seen has a statue of a soldier – this one is different.

Nice old place opposite the memorial.

Wind farm turbines between Beaufort and Ararat

Marty waiting patiently while I took some shots

Challicum HillsI think I’ve mentioned before that I love riding this motorcycle!

It was uncharacteristic for us to head inland on a day like this, but I’m glad that we did. I wore my textile gear just to see how breathable it was on a warm day as I plan to take textile rather than leather gear to NZ in February. The initial impression was that it breathes OK, I certainly didn’t feel like I was in a plastic bag as I’ve done in the past with non Gor-Tex lined stuff.

The whole trip was 417 kms. A great day out.


Spring in the Otways – lots of bugs & bad asphalt

After a week of miserable weather we finally got a sensational Spring day – around 30C (86F) and blue skies. We took our typical Otways run and it was a treat to be riding in such warm conditions.

Larger route map HERE

The riding was so good that I hardly took any pics. The countryside is just lush, green and alive with bugs and birds. It’s actually hard to imagine that prior to last year we had a decade of drought. However, I really have to comment on the appalling state of the many of the roads and more particularly the road repairs – unbelievably amateurish looking patches with fine screenings about the edges! This is a major tourist route to the 12 Apostles and the Otways National Park in southern Australia and the road conditions are an embarrassment.

I took just two pics today. One was of the ZX14 before I left to meet up with Marty (look at those roses).

The other was of a great looking Harley at the gas station in Apollo Bay, ridden by a nice young woman from Echuca (Vic) on her first run on the Great Ocean Road. She said her buddy also had a white HD as well.

Ride safe ladies and enjoy your weekend.

We stopped for a break at the microbrewery at Forrest and bumped into an old work colleague whom we hadn’t seen for many years, which just added to a grand day’s riding. Yes Di, we did see you sampling those beers!

Blue Mountains, New South Wales

This year the destination for our annual motorcycle trip was the Blue Mountains in NSW, via the Victorian Alps & Snowy Mountains. There were only three of us this time, Bill R on his new Kawasaki ZX14, Marty on his ZX9 and me on the VFR800. We had a great run, despite a little crappy wet weather to start off with.


Sunday 14th Feb – the first day for Marty & I was Geelong to Bairnsdale where we met Bill. Then we all headed on to Bright via Omeo and Mt Hotham.

Pic of the motorcycles at Mt Hotham Victoria – just before the rain started. Fortunately it didn’t last too long and the descent was on a dry road.

Our digs for the night – the Oriental hotel-motel in Bright. We have all stayed there previously. It rained heavily from just near Harietville for our final run into Bright. Bill most generously gave me a ride on his new ZX14, which was a revelation in very controllable, turbine smooth, refined motorcycling. Now I have to have one, of course!

Monday 15th – Bright to Bungendore (near Canberra) via The Alpine Way. This can be quite a technically challenging ride due to it being a narrow mountain road, however, parts of it were made more difficult by the presence of rain, some gravel strewn corners and the presence of wildlife.

Near Tom Groggin there was a mob of decent sized kangaroos! In fact we saw quite a lot of road side wild life,including ‘roos, an emu, rabbits and a tortoise all in our path at some stage. Fortunately we didn’t encounter any wild horses this time, though we could see where they had crossed the road in places.

Tuesday 16th – Bungendore to Katoomba in the NSW Blue Mountains, via Sydney. Being lost in peak hour traffic had both the motorcycle engines and their riders running pretty hot! However, the weather was good and we finally got to our digs at the Katoomba Family Hotel – which was not as it looked on the ‘Net when we booked.What a dump! Marty & I had intended to use it as a base for a couple of days, but we checked out the next morning and had our 2nd night’s tariff refunded.

The sea bridge near Woolongong – part of the Grand Pacific Drive. Quite a bit over-rated really!


Wednesday 17th – Bill headed of homeward for two days of riding via central NSW. Marty & I looked at Echo point and “The Three Sisters”, then  took the road to the Jenolan caves, and then on to Lithgow. From Lithgow we traveled Bells Line of Road – featuring sensational views and lots of twisty corners – all in gorgeous sunshine. We then headed up the legendary (for motorcyclists) 160+ kilometers of the Putty Road to Singleton in the Hunter Valley. The Putty was everything that we had hoped for & certainly did not disappoint! Checked into a great little pub for the night and had an excellent meal there as well. Much to my surprise Singleton seemed like a very prosperous town (population around twenty thousand).

Thursday 18th – awoke to another sunny day and headed back the way we had come. After re-fueling and a drink in Lithgow we headed for the Mt Panorama race track in Bathurst. Saw a sneaky unmarked police pursuit car in Lithgow that even had personalized number plates.

The countryside was very green and  looked a treat after all the recent heavy summer rainfall that NSW has had. After a couple of laps and some pics at Mt Panorama we headed for Cootamundra, but by the time we got to Young called it quits for the day.

 VFR@Mt Panorama – pics by M Owen.

Friday 19th – Young NSW to Beechworth Vic, via Gundagai, Tumut, Tumburumba and a fantastic run along Lake Hume on the Granya road. Before we got to Beechworth we went for a quick deliberate detour via the Gundaring road to Myrtleford and then up Buckland’s Gap to Beechworth.

The dog on the Tucker Box monument.

Near Tooma, NSW, we stopped in at the memorial to the Southern Cloud aviation disaster of 1931. This countryside is magnificent on a day like this. China Wall and Mt Kosciusko in the distance. This is my third visit to this spot and there is something about  it that is very special. Difficult to put into words though!


Lake Hume – the colors really were this vivid

Marty on the Granya road, the temp climbing by now.

We checked into our accommodation at the Old Priory. Our room was the largest bedroom I’ve ever seen – actually it was the former chapel. We had the entire place to ourselves, which was just a little creepy.

Saturday 20th– all good things have to come to an end and so we headed towards home via the Milliwa wine region, the King valley, the twisty section of Whitfield to Mansfield, Yea and then down the freeway to Melbourne and then home to Geelong.

Many thanks to Marty for organising such an excellent route for this year’s ride, which was approximately 3,500Ks. All the motorcycles ran perfectly and we had no ‘pucker” moments or performance awards!

SATURDAY 8 September, springtime in Oz. I woke up to a magnificient spring day, perfect for motorcycling. I met Steve down in Colac and we headed for the 12 Apostles. We stopped just out of Colac to check out the Otway vineyard & restaurant as the next venue for our group of friends to get together for dinner.

Otway Vineyard, a stylish venue with friendly staff.

This is near Loch Ard Gorge, along what is referred to as the “shipwreck coast”. A famous wreck was the Loch Ard, you can read about it by clicking this link.

12 Apostles – in name only. This day was about as good as it gets down there with no wind and a comfortable temperature for motorcycling. Often it’s either blowing a gale or unbearable hot.

355 ks, another grand day.